Giants manager Bruce Bochy declined to discuss his lineup for Friday’s opener of the National League Division Series against the Cubs save for one thing: Eduardo Nunez will not be in it.
If healthy, the speedy right-handed-hitting third baseman surely would be in the lineup Friday against Chicago left-hander Jon Lester. But Nunez is still recovering from a hamstring strain and will not be ready to start, Bochy said. The Giants have until 10 a.m. Friday to decide whether to carry Nunez on the 25-man roster for the series.
“It’s a five-game series,” Bochy said. “If we think he can help coming off the bench, maybe start the back end of this series, then we probably would activate him.”
The Giants did win Wednesday’s wild-card game on a three-run, ninth-inning home run by Nunez’s replacement, Conor Gillaspie, whose play over the final week of the season helped ease Nunez’s absence.
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During that week, Bochy at times sat Denard Span and Joe Panik against left-handed pitchers in favor of right-handed hitters Gorkys Hernandez and Kelby Tomlinson. Bochy said those decisions had not been made as of Thursday afternoon.
Meeting of minds – The Giants have never lost a postseason series in 11 chances under Bochy. His counterpart, Joe Maddon, has led the Cubs to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons as manager and created a distinct clubhouse culture encapsulated in slogans such as “Do simple better” and “Try not to suck.”
The managers expressed their respect for each other Thursday, with Maddon giving a colorful description of Bochy’s style.
“He’s a cowboy,” Maddon said. “He’ll do anything, and when you’re managing against a cowboy, it’s always interesting.”
Bochy smiled when told of Maddon’s comment.
“I think that as managers we look forward to managing against guys that we know do such a great job and will be so well-prepared,” Bochy said. “It makes you stay on your toes and makes sure that you’re prepared.
“He’s got a lot of weapons over there, and it’s up to me to have these guys ready and, of course, have my moves ready.”
Old rivals – Cubs outfielder Jason Heyward and Giants catcher Buster Posey were linked almost immediately upon arriving in the majors in 2010 when Posey beat out Heyward in a closely contested N.L. Rookie of the Year race.
But their rivalry actually goes back further. Heyward said he and Posey played against each other in high school in Georgia, where their teams met in the state championship game.
“He got out one time in three games,” Heyward said. “And he flew out to the warning track the one time he got out.”
Reminded that his team won the state title, Heyward had a quick response.
“Yeah, but I’m going to say three World Series rings is a little bit better,” he said.
Wish granted – The last time Johnny Cueto faced the Cubs in September, he said after an extra-innings loss: “I hope to God we do” face the Cubs in the playoffs. A day before he’ll get that chance in Friday’s opener, Cueto played down any significance.
“Nothing special,” Cueto said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. “I just said it because they have a very young and talented team. And I just feel that in a series like this, the best team should win.”